Warm Springs Partnership
Cover photo courtesy of Brutis Baez
Shuwiyasha Food Sovereignty Project
Information provided in collaboration with WSCAT, www.wscat.org
The Warm Springs Community Action Team’s food sovereignty project, Shuwiyasha, aims to support community, private, and Tribal sustainable farming and food production projects with a focus on breaking down internalized colonization within those systems. They are conducting this project in partnership with the HDFFA to reduce health inequities by increasing community knowledge around food systems and food sovereignty, increasing access to fresh foods, and laying a foundation for future local food production.
HDFFA is working to change the narrative, as explained by Illuminative, by stepping out of the leadership role and playing a supportive role to Warm Springs Tribal members at the Warm Springs Community Action Team. Instead of leading the conversation, advising, fixing the problem or facilitating the solution, we are listening and supporting tribal efforts in this joint food project.
The Warm Springs Reservation is considered a food desert and community members face numerous systemic barriers on the local, state, and federal level. The Tribal government spends a majority of its money, employee capacity, and legal power on land management and protection. Tribal peoples’ connections to the land, water, and animals are intertwined with who we are. Traditions have been passed down but access to first foods, medicines and traditional lands have been intentionally severed; although many families have passed on teachings, too many do not have access.
“With this project, we aim to plant seeds of thought within community members when we are talking about foods and food systems, to make connections to and amplify the traditional aspects of our daily food habits, to show how healthier choices impact our cognitive, cultural, physical, and economic food systems, and to recognize and break down internal colonization within our community. Our project will help community members become more trauma informed and begin to address lateral oppression, much of which started in the form of Federal government policy,” Carina Miller, WSCAT Project Lead
Based on community feedback from 150+ survey respondents, WSCAT has proposed the following definition of food sovereignty:
Our food sovereignty is centered on a connection to traditional foods, the gathering, hunting, fishing, preservation and preparation of these foods, and the Tribal life views associated with them. It is the right to define our own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate. It includes the true right to access food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves.
People from the Warm Springs community have maintained relationships to the land, animals, and food through tradition and spirituality. This allows us to understand the world differently but our Tribal relationships to food have been disrupted deeply by colonization. Many modern barriers cause a disconnect between these traditional skills and relationships to food and everyday diets and practice.
This is an adaptable project based on our changing understanding of the evolving needs of the community. WSCAT’s goal is to be community centered and led, laying groundwork for a larger private sector tribal economy, more food access, and healing-informed development through various projects:
- Partnering with Oregon Agricultural Trust and Tribal Council and committees to pursue a large scale food co-op and commercial farming training program
- Creating policy changes, based on the barriers we face with leasing and use of land
- Seeking funding to construct a greenhouse for the children’s learning garden, so children can grow their food from seed and have longer seasons
- Expanding our produce giveaway program and offering food preservation classes for community members with values based agreements for all teachers or contractors
- Supporting individual families and community members to meet their identified needs
As we continue to build relationships and partnerships within the community and with the Warm Springs Community Action Team, our goal is to support tribal-lead programming that is identified by members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.